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The importance of improving your English before attending university abroad

Improving your academic English can be one of the most advantageous favors you could do for yourself before arriving on your American university campus. You might have known how to speak colloquial English throughout your life, but while engaged in a lecture or writing an essay, you will need to have a superior understanding of academic English. The English skills that you developed for the TOEFL or IELTS are definitely useful but it does not stop there. The academic words that you learned for the test are not enough, despite having a high score.
Procrastinating your language development would only be a disadvantage to yourself. Your classmates have not only spoken informal English their entire lives, but they have also written, attended class and spoken with professors in high-level academic English many more years than you have. In order to reach, and maybe even surpass, your peers’ English level, follow these preliminary steps.


1. Research and start to learn the vocabulary that is specific to your area of study. You should begin to gain a deeper understanding of your specific academic words and in which context they are used, in order to understand the high-level books you will be reading and the complex lectures that you will have to interpret. Reading academic publications about your area of study is a great way to start. They are full of necessary words and information that you will be expected to know when you arrive on an American university campus. Creating a personal dictionary or glossary is a helpful way to remember the words that you learn.
2. English lectures, classroom discussion and intellectual arguments require a greater level of communication and listening in academic English. In order to communicate effectively with your classmates and have a profound debate, you must develop an ear for conversational and argumentative flow. Listening to English podcasts, such as TED Talks and RadioLab, pertaining to academia or related topics is a helpful.

3. Improving your reading and writing skills before attending university abroad is crucial because you will need to write various essays throughout your application process, such as your personal statement, even before starting university. You should read classic and academic English books, American news and articles. This will expand your knowledge of American academia and how scholars use certain topics or phrases to cultivate a convincing argument and ultimately prepare you to read graduate-level textbooks and write collegiate papers. Programs like Grammarly are helpful for checking proper English spelling and grammar.

4. One of the most beneficial ways of improving your English is taking online classes. There are a multitude of online services that provide private lessons with language experts at a low cost, such as: Verbling, italki and Verbalplanet. Taking courses online will increase your familiarity with conversational English and therefore increase your confidence when speaking to your new American friends on campus.

Don’t wait until you arrive in the US to advance your academic English. Starting early and learning from various resources is crucial for your success and will help you adapt to your new surroundings and achieve academic success.

Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?

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